BP settlement includes money for health care

Published: Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 6:01 a.m. Last Modified: Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 12:47 a.m.

Health care in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes could be improved with $50 million in grant money included in the BP oil spill settlement.

The settlement, which includes grants for five years of services, includes millions to launch a Primary Care Capacity Project aimed at expanding and improving access to health care in coastal communities after the BP oil spill. The project is expected to begin this summer.

The Primary Care project will be led by the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the Alliance Institute, both New Orleans-based nonprofits, and will focus on improving health care in Terrebonne, Lafourche, Cameron, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and Jefferson parishes, and New Orleans.

This is work that (Louisiana Public Health Institute) has done for years in Louisiana and is founded upon the notion that many communities across these states don’t have sufficient capacity for primary care. These coastal communities, because of their location, are vulnerable to natural phenomenon and industrial risks like the oil spill, said project leader Eric Baumgartner.

Improving environmental health expertise is of great importance to many local residents who fear that diseases linked to oil and chemical exposure have gone undetected since the spill.

Environmental health is a field that looks at the effect of disasters, chemical exposures and other events on human health.

Susan Felio Price, co-owner of the Price Brothers Shipyard in Chauvin, said her husband became ill at the family’s drydock after cleaning boats that were still contaminated with oil from the spill.

It started with a rash but soon he was vomiting every day for months, she said. He’s been hospitalized three times and is still doing poorly.

It’s so hard, she said. I’ve been advocating and fighting for people and then something like this happens to my husband.

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BP settlement includes money for health care

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